A 16-year-old Barna girl who has harboured dreams of becoming a fashion designer since she small has been signed to one of the biggest modelling agencies in Ireland.
Serena O’Connell has already done fashion shoots for the buyers of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, taken part in a makeover segment for TV3’s Xposé and been chosen to do a makeup campaign for the cosmetics company Urban Decay.
The Transition Year student at Dominican College (Taylor’s Hill) only signed up to the Andrea Roche Model Agency in October after auditioning at an open day. She was invited to do training at a boot camp which paved the way for paid work.
She decided to give it a go after people were always suggested she was cut out for the industry.
“People always noticed my height and said I’d be good at modelling. I’m just under 5’11”. A lot of people say I’m like Kendall Jenner or Selena Gomez.”
Insisting that she’s “not super-skinny like the New York models” – her profile page lists her as size 8 – she says her height does make her stand out in the Irish industry.
So far the experience has proved very positive.
“I’ve only just started out but everyone’s so nice, everyone’s so energetic. I’ve love to do it while I’m at school and college.”
Models that she admires includes Gigi Hadid, Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn.
Despite her auspicious start in the game, modelling would not be her first love.
When she was eight, her mother, Maura O’Connell, organised for her to meet designer John Rocha, who was in Fallers Jewellers to launch his collection of Waterford Crystal.
“He said I had to learn to draw really well. When it came to organising work experience I wrote to him and sent him a picture of us from that day and sent a portrait I drew of him as well as a few of my designs and he invited me to work in his studio for a week.”
She got advice from the team about building up her portfolio to apply for fashion design courses in Dublin or Limerick. Ideally she would love to study and then get experience in the fashion hot bed of London.
Modelling could well be the perfect way to get on the inside track to a notoriously competitive industry.
Her favourite shop in town is Top Shop but she also loves to browse in Brown Thomas. Her school friends think her newfound career is “really cool”.
“They’re not really into that stuff – it’s just something that I do.”
Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island
Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.
A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.
Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.
It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.
Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.
Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash
A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.
At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.
The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.
Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.
Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.
It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.
In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”
It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.
“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.
“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”
Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.
The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.